These are my notes from the second session to hear out the sides of SM, the involved government agencies, and “the oppositors”. More time was allocated for SM and the concerned government agencies to answer the questions from the Baguio City Council members. These noted were taken down in their order, but I strongly advice readers to ask the secretary to the Baguio City Council for the transcriptions. I’m presenting these per topic, from the notes I gathered & questions & reactions I still have:
ISSUE #1: INVOKING “Sub judice”
SM — Engr Bien Mateo, VP for SMIC [?], reminded everyone that they (SM) considered skipping the consultation [sic] because of “sub judice” where all participants in a court case should not impede, obstruct, or degrade each other in a trial by publicity. The judges are humans themselves and just be free from pressures. The media were warned as well. Already, the issue with SM’s cutting of the 182 trees has come out in the Feb 22 issue of Sunstar Baguio, Feb 27 5.30am program of ABS-CBN TV Patrol, Feb 29 issue of Sunstar-Baguio (Legal Suit vs SM), March 4 issues of Northern Philippine Times, Amianan, Nordis, Baguio Midland Courier, Baguio Chronicle, etc.
The Baguio City Council voted to take the risk and hear this issue out. [Someone please help explain this]
ISSUE #2: THE SM EXPANSION PLAN DID NOT GET APPROVAL FROM THE BAGUIO CITY COUNCIL AND THE PEOPLE OF BAGUIO TO BE GRANTED AN ECC (asked by Councilors Tabanda, Carino,Weygan)
SM – Bien Mateo admitted that they conducted a public consultation with the BRM (Baguio Regreening Movement) – as to when, there was no mention. And please note that the BRM is headed by Councilor Balajadia, the chair of the Committee on the Environment. Project Save 182 has had reports from overseas Filipinos that the BRM is soliciting money for their activities.
DENR’s Engr Donaal — Explained that the IRR in 2007 has the #1 requirement of Public Consultation. However, it is not mandatory. [?????]
Atty Janssen whispered that “The DENR cannot diminitsh nor remove items in an Administrative Order”
DENR’s Director Red Baguilat — Explained that the public consultation be and LGU endorsement is needed. He admitted that Mayor Domogan issued an endorsement letter. Another LGU endorsement was from the Barangay Captain of Session Road Barangay. Note that it was not even endorsed by the Barangay Council.
Councilor Carino asked whether the DENR would consider the sentiments of the City of Baguio, though its City Council and the citizens of Baguio who do not reside in Session Road Barangay but are affected by the tree cutting/earthballing. Dir Baguilat replied, “DENR Secretary’s clearance is needed”
Councilor Fianza asked on who monitors the public consultation. No answer was provided. [!!!!]
Councilor Bagbagen asked during the 2nd round of questions from the Council whether the Public Hearing will continue next session. The chairman, Councilor Balajadia replied that it will depend. Parameters not set on what “it depends” mean.
ISSUE #3: AMENDED ECC DISCREPANCIES (asked by Councilor Tabanda, Carino, Fianza)
Councilor Tabanda asked the DENR whether the amended ECC of September 30, 2011 had an updated EIA. Director Baguilat responded that the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessement) is different from the EBRMB’s EIS. [???]
Councilor Carino asked whether the Baguio City Council was consulted for the Sept 13, 2001 ECC and for the amended ECC. Director Baguilat responded, “No” and promised to submit the endorsement of Barangay Session Road. Note that the PS 182 Legal Team has a copy of the “endorsement of the Barangay Captain” and there is also no Barangay Council Resolution on the matter of SM’s expansion that involves cutting the 182 trees.
Councilor Fianza asked the representatives of SM to point out on their map projected on the screen which areas are covered by their ECC because he sees that SM has submitted a title for 76,976 square meters but submitted a development plan of 8.5 hectares as well. Engr Vince Torres of SM admitted that the approved ECC was for 8.4 hectares but the TCT is 7.4 hectares only. The DPWH corrected the area. Engr Torres also admitted that the cottages on Luneta Hill belong to the City of Baguio.
ISSUE #4: EARTHBALLING SUCCESS RATE, PROCESSES, PENALTIES (asked by Councilor Datuin & Fianza)
Councilor Fianza asked for a clarification on the number of trees to be earthballed — Does the 97 involve the 42 alnos saplings and pine trees? DENR’s Director Baguilat replied that all the trees will be earthballed but they recommended cutting of some as well. [Huh? Isn't a cutting permit different from an earthballing permit? And SM does not yet have an earthballing permit?]
SM’s Bien Mateo explained that instead of cutting the trees, they will earthball the trees. He admitted that the survival rate is not 100%. In fact, the survival rate is 20%, as concurred by DENR’s Director Baguilat. To increase the rate of survival, SM plans to do “preventive maintennance” by employing full time foresters from the DENR [huh? As far as I know, government employees are not allowed to do another full time work during their office hours] to check the trees everyday and braces be put during typhooons.
The earthballling will be done by a DENR accredited agency and penalty for the death of trees earthballed is simply to replant trees: 30 trees for one tree dying. [Duh, it takes a tree many years to grow and give the same benefits as the 182 trees are doing NOW!]
Councilor Weygan asked on when could an earthballing permit be revoked? DENR’s Director Baguilat replied that when there is a violation of a requirement or incomplete requirements. SM was ordered to do information dissemination and public consultation. [Eh, di INCOMPLETE!!! So you SHOULD REVOKE!]
ISSUE #5: WATER HARVESTING (asked by Councilors Bilog, Tabanda, Weygan)
Councilor Bilog asked about the plan to make a water reservoir underneath the proposed building, particularly on the system of rain harvesting. DENR’s Engr Donaal explained that PD 1057 Article 6 (Water Code of the Philippines) contains that rainwater falling on such land will be public property.
Councilor Tabanda asked whether there is a legal impediment to collect rainwater, as each one of the residents in Baguio who own houses collect rainwater. DENR’s Engr Donaal said, “No legal impediment to collect rain water.”
Asked whether SM has obtained a permit to construct the said water reservoir, SM’s Engr Bien Mateo answered, “No. In case no permit is granted, then the rainwater goes to the flood drain of the City.” [So the reason for building a parking building for soil erosion mitigation is NULL & VOID?]
Councilor Weygan asked the representative from CBAO to explain whether the water harvesting plan of SM is reflected in the plans submitted for their proposed parking building. She was answered that Section 306 of the National Building Code specifies that errors in plans and specifications, incorrect data, and non-compliance for the Building Code are grounds for 2 courses of action from the Building Officer: suspend the permit, or revoke the permit.
Councilor Tabanda asked whether the area where the 182 trees currently are is a watershed. The DENR’s Engr Donaal explained, “The area has not been proclaimed a watershed.” [Obviously didn't read Rappler Report]
ISSUE #6: PROPER AUTHORITIES TO BE ADDRESSED REGARDING THE ISSUE OF SM (asked by Councilor Palaganas & insinuated by Aliping)
Councilor Aliping asked “Why only now do you protest?”
Councilor Palaganas asked “Under the laws of CBAO and CEPMO, where will the oppositors go for revoking the permits?” He was answered “To the Secretary of DENR for the building permit and to the Secretary of DENR for the Tree cutting permit” . Councilor Palaganas commented, “You protesters are barking at the wrong tree!”
Many comments came from the crowd gathered, and I totally missed the part when during the second round of questions when Alipinig was no longer in the Hall and Palaganas asked, “What had you done for the environment?”
Karlo Marko Altomonte could not help but burst out. Later, Karlo would comment on FB – “His question was so specific, nI had to answer it honestly… but for the past 16 years, I made sure that all the plays I staged addressed relevant local social issues… environmental, historical, cultural, name it. I am an artist, that’s what I do, that’s what I can do. Silang sumesweldo sa taongbayan, na responsibilidad ipagtanggol ang kapakanan ng mamayan, ayon, natutulog sa public hearing tapos may ganang magtanong ng ganon? Ang kapal ng mukha!” - March 5, 2012 at 9:51pm · Like · 11
In case the reader doesn’t know why the Petition was brought to the City Council — it was because Project Save 182 movement felt the need to have their voices heard. Our representatives have not done their jobs properly.
ISSUE #7: LUNETA HILL SITS ON EARTHQUAKE FAULT LINES (asked by Councilor Tabanda)
After Councilor Balajadia refused to allow UP Baguio Chancellor Precy Macasantos remark on SM’s presentation because she had a meeting to attend, Councilor Tabanda took the question and asked about the earthquake faults of Baguio and their relation to Luneta Hill.
DENR’s Director Baguilat replied that the PhilVocs is the competent agency to answer that, based on his personal experience, disregarding the fact that the information was given by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the DENR.
SM’s Engr Bien Mateo remarked that SM lies 9 kilometers away from the 2 fault lines [identified by MGB]
Whispers from the crowd: Don’t they know that the epicenter of the July 16, 1990 earthquake was in Cabanatuan City but Baguio City was devastated?
ISSUE #8: GOING AGAINST THE EXECUTIVE ORDER 23, ISSUED ON FEB 11, 2012 — MORATORIUM ON THE CUTTING OF TREES (asked by Councilor Carino)
Councilor Carino asked on why was SM given an ECC to cut 182 trees but the Camp John Hay[Development Corporation] was refused an ECC to cut 8 trees.
DENR’s Director Baguilat said that the question could be answered by a competent person. [As regional director of the DENR, he is not competent? He should present his degrees then.] Furthermore, he admitted that the CJH must give a comprehensive development plan. And then, “Walang autority to SM to cut and earthball.” [HUH? Did I not hear correctly????]
In relation to this issue, Councilor Alangsab asked about how many trees are given by the Philippine president for the greening movement. DENR representative answered, “25,000 trees are given each year to barangays.”
Councilor Alangsab also pointed out SM plans for a sky garden on a concrete deck. [hahahaha. Earth to SM, are you grounded in this world?]
ISSUE #9: ALTERNATIVES TO THE SM EXPANSION PLAN (asked by Councilors Aliping, Bilog, Rondez)
After Councilor Aliping gave a tirade to the protesters, he asked SM about their considering expansion to other sites. SM’s representative replied that “There are technical deficiencies in the SM City Baguio Project that affects the stability of SM City Baguio”. [So they're really expanding because their primary building is UNSAFE????]
Councilor Bilog asked on their plans of building a parking building. SM’s representative replied, “We have no plans of building a parking building. We are alloting 20% for commerial spaces and 80% for open space. We will have 1,200 parking slots planned.”
SM’s Engr Bien Mateo also explained that the foundations of their proposed building will be 3 meters deep from the Gov Pack Road level. [??? Is that safe? ]
Councilor Rondez asked Architect Jody Alabanza about the identification of site development alternatives, esp the clustering of buildings. Before answering, Alabanza remarked that he was neither with the PS 182 protesters nor pro-SM. He reiterated that instead of building one huge structure, the parking slots necessary could be done in clusters, avoiding trees. He also asked for a minute to say that there was no scoping session done before the design of the building was done and presented. [No mention also of the other alternative presented on Feb 27, 2012 , i.e. to build the parking building in the area fronting the Baguio Water District & the new Victory Bus Terminal, where the BAL used to stand]
This issue was quite drawn out.
Councilor Cosalan asked about OCT #1. Previously, the Baguio City Council has requested PGMA to cede to Baguio City the areas covered by OCT #1 such as Athletic Bowl, University of the Cordilleras, Sunshine Park, Baguio Museum, Baguio City National High School, bus stations along the Gov Pack Road, Baguio City Police Office, BDO Main Branch, SM, Pine Trees of the World Park, Boy Scouts of the Philippines’ “property”, SSS, and the DOST. A Memorandum of Agreement had been signed on June 15, 2011 with the Secretary of DENR (Paje). These areas ceded to the City are still to be finalized. DENR’s representative said that the technical staff can sit down on this before they make joint decisions to be forwarded to the Secretary.
Councilor Cosalan asked whether the conduct of a survey has been given a memorandum and what is its state now. DENR’s Engr Ventura, the Division Chief for Land Management, replied that the verification survey has been done with the councilor’s office and the next thing to do is to set up the permanent markers with the council. The DENR is in the position to be able to do the permanent marking (with mojons) – to be done jointly with the Baguio City Council.
Councilor Cosalan asked whether the land of SM is ceded as public land or part of OCT #1. DENR’s Atty Marcelo replied that “As per DENR records, SM got it from private individuals.” The 3.4 hectares where the mall now stands was applied through the IGSA or Insular Government Sales Application. The private individual from whom SM Investments Corporation bought the land was Aurelio Y. Bautista (10,455 square meters with MSI – 1-00648, 1-2-00648, 1-3-00648) and the private company was the National Development Company with P-1316 73199. [At this point, I'd appreciate another lawyer to explain all the notes covering the MSA outside the TSA, coverage of RA 30-38, dockets, provisional permits, and pre-patents]
Councilor Bagbagen asked about OCT #1 Series 2008 urging the Solicitor General to act on the resolution put forth by Councilors Tabanda, Cosalan, and himself). The DENR spokesperson admitted he was not aware of the resolution, having been in office only in December of 2010. He promised to look into it.
Councilor Fianza asked about the ownership of the Development Bank of the Philippines regarding Luneta Hill. He was answered that the DBP foreclosed on the Resort Development Corporation. Forty-five thousand, two hundred and seventy-one (45,271 square meters) of land transferred to the DBP because of the non-payment of a loan in 1988 amounting to P90 million by the said company. The Cuenca family has filed a case regarding this matter.
Is SM’s project considered environmentally critical?
What about the demands of the environment compared to the socio-economic development?
HOMEWORK FOR ALL THE PARTIES INVOLVED AND INTERESTED:
1. Position Papers – furnish all the parties involved [Ahem, 18 copies to the councilors, 1 hard copy for Project Save 182 with the provision to post it on the internet please -- we have more than 7,000 members, and ??? copies to the government agencies involved]
2. SM to submit all their documents - [MUST include minutes of public consultation with the Baguio Regreening Movement, gift certificates issued to government officials - Councilor Tabanda, though they denied giving P200,000 to each councilor, how about GC's?]
3. DENR to submit the following:
3.1 All documents of DENR mentioned in the Public Hearing
(ECC, EIA, EIS, Letters of Endorsements, Barangay Resolutions, etc)
3.2 List of trees, locators who requested, including dead trees
(requested by Councilor Balajadia)
3.3 Number of trees applied for cutting permit, number of trees balled, number of surviving trees
(requested by Councilor Datuin)
3.3 ECP projects and ECA projects
4. Other documents in aid of legislation
(requested by Councilor Carino)
** I had noted this to the best of my knowledge and time in the Session Hall. I appreciate comments or corrections. Thank you. **
** Please tag people you think would benefit from this information. Thank you! **
March 5, 2012 Public Hearing on Saving 182 Trees